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l

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

FORM 20-F

(Mark One)

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021.

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Date of event requiring this shell company report  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For the transition period from   to

Commission file number: 001-39436

KE Holdings Inc.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

N/A

(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)

Cayman Islands

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

Oriental Electronic Technology Building,

No. 2 Chuangye Road, Haidian District,

Beijing 100086

People’s Republic of China

+86 10 5810 4689

(Address of principal executive offices)

XU Tao, Chief Financial Officer

Telephone: +86 10 5810 4689

Email: ir@ke.com

Oriental Electronic Technology Building,

No. 2 Chuangye Road, Haidian District,

Beijing 100086

People’s Republic of China

(Name, Telephone, Email and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

American depositary shares (one American
depositary share representing three Class A
ordinary shares, par value US$0.00002 per share)

BEKE

New York Stock Exchange

Class A ordinary shares, par value
US$0.00002 per share
*

New York Stock Exchange

*

Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing on the New York Stock Exchange, or the NYSE, of American depositary shares.

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

(Title of Class)

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:

None

(Title of Class)

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.

As of December 31, 2021, there were 3,573,671,836 ordinary shares outstanding, being the sum of 2,688,370,556 Class A ordinary shares (excluding the 17,540,679 Class A ordinary shares issued to the depositary bank for bulk issuance of ADSs reserved for future issuances upon the exercise or vesting of awards granted under our share incentive plans) and 885,301,280 Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.00002 per share.

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes No

Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes  No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Emerging growth company

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  Yes No

† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. Yes No

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

U.S. GAAP

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board

Other

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow. Item 17  Item 18

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No

(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court. Yes No

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

INTRODUCTION

1

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

3

PART I

4

Item 1.

Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

4

Item 2.

Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

4

Item 3.

Key Information

4

Item 4.

Information on the Company

71

Item 4A.

Unresolved Staff Comments

114

Item 5.

Operating and Financial Review and Prospects

114

Item 6.

Directors, Senior Management and Employees

136

Item 7.

Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions

150

Item 8.

Financial Information

153

Item 9.

The Offer and Listing

154

Item 10.

Additional Information

154

Item 11.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

169

Item 12.

Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities

170

PART II

172

Item 13.

Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies

172

Item 14.

Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds

172

Item 15.

Controls and Procedures

173

Item 16A.

Audit Committee Financial Expert

174

Item 16B.

Code of Ethics

174

Item 16C.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

174

Item 16D.

Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees

175

Item 16E.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

175

Item 16F.

Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant

175

Item 16G.

Corporate Governance

175

Item 16H.

Mine Safety Disclosure

175

Item 16I.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

175

PART III

176

Item 17.

Financial Statements

176

Item 18.

Financial Statements

176

Item 19.

Exhibits

176

SIGNATURES

179

i

INTRODUCTION

Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, references in this annual report to:

“active agents” are to agents on our platform, including agents employed by us and from labor dispatching or outsourcing agencies, and agents affiliated with our connected stores and connected brands as employees, contractors, or through other service arrangements, as of a given date excluding the agents who (i) delivered notice to leave but have not yet completed the exit procedures, (ii) have not engaged in any critical steps in housing transactions (including but not limited to introducing new properties, attracting new customers and conducting property showings) during the preceding 30 days, or (iii) have not participated in facilitating any housing transaction during the preceding three months;
“active stores” are to stores on our platform as of a given date excluding the stores which (i) have not facilitated any housing transaction during the preceding 60 days, (ii) do not have any agent who has engaged in any critical steps in housing transactions (including but not limited to introducing new properties, attracting new customers and conducting property showings) during the preceding seven days, or (iii) have not been visited by any agent during the preceding 14 days;
“ADRs” are to the American depositary receipts that may evidence the ADSs;
“ADSs” are to the American depositary shares, each of which represents three Class A ordinary shares;
“BVI” are to the British Virgin Islands;
“Beike,” “we,” “us,” “our company” and “our” are to KE Holdings Inc., our Cayman Islands holding company, its subsidiaries, and, in the context of describing the consolidated financial information, the VIEs and their subsidiaries in China;
“China” or the “PRC” are to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purposes of this annual report only, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan;
“Class A ordinary shares” are to our class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.00002 per share;
“Class B ordinary shares” are to our class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.00002 per share;
“GTV” of our platform, for a given period, are to gross transaction value, which is calculated as the total value of all transactions we facilitated on the Beike platform and evidenced by signed contracts as of the end of the period, including the value of the existing home transactions, new home transactions and emerging and other services, and including transactions that are contracted but pending closing (i.e. completion of title transfer and registration) at the end of period. For the avoidance of doubt, if the transactions are not closed afterwards, the corresponding GTV will be offset accordingly;
“Hong Kong” or “HK” or “Hong Kong S.A.R.” are to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC;
“mobile monthly active users” or “mobile MAU” are to the sum of (i) the number of accounts that have accessed the Beike platform through our Beike or Lianjia mobile app (with duplication eliminated) at least once during a month, and (ii) the number of Weixin users that have accessed the Beike platform through our Weixin mini programs at least once during a month. The number of mobile MAU is calculated using internal company data that have not been independently verified, and we treat such mobile app account and Weixin user account as a separate user for the purpose of calculating mobile MAU, although some individuals may use more than one accounts, may share the same account with other individuals, and/or may use both mobile apps and Weixin mini programs to access the Beike platform. Average mobile MAU is calculated as the arithmetic average of the mobile MAU on monthly basis across the months covered in the applicable period;

1

“ordinary shares” are to our class A and class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.00002 per share;
“our WFOEs” are to Beike Jinke (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd., Beike (Tianjin) Investment Co., Ltd., Beike (China) Investment Holdings Limited and Jinbei (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd.;
“RMB” and “Renminbi” are to the legal currency of China;
“SaaS” are to software-as-a-services;
“Tencent” are to Tencent Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries;
“US$,” “U.S. dollars,” “$,” and “dollars” are to the legal currency of the United States; and
"VIEs" are to Beijing Lianjia Real Estate Brokerage Co., Ltd., or Beijing Lianjia, Tianjin Xiaowu Information & Technology Co., Ltd., or Tianjin Xiaowu, Beijing Yiju Taihe Technology Co., Ltd., or Yiju Taihe, Beijing Beijia Commcercial Consultantcy Co., Ltd., or Beijing Beijia, and Beijing Beihao Commercial Consultancy Co., Ltd., or Beijing Beihao.

When we calculate agents on our platform, we refer to agents who are affiliated with the real estate brokerage stores and subject to our Agent Cooperation Network, or ACN, rules.

In China, real estate brokerage refers to the activities of providing intermediary or agency services in connection with housing transactions by brokerage firms and agents, wherein brokerage firms and agents are allowed to collect commissions from either or both of buy side and sell side as long as the payment arrangement is prescribed in the brokerage service agreements.

Unless otherwise noted, all translations from Renminbi to U.S. dollars and from U.S. dollars to Renminbi in this annual report are made at a rate of RMB6.3726 to US$1.00, the exchange rate in effect as of December 30, 2021 as set forth in the H.10 statistical release of The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. We make no representation that any Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate, or at all.

2

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

This annual report contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current expectations and views of future events. The forward-looking statements are contained principally in the sections entitled “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.” Known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, including those listed under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

You can identify some of these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “is/are likely to,” “potential,” “continue” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include statements relating to:

our goals and strategies;
our future business development, financial condition and results of operations;
expected changes in our revenues, costs or expenditures;
our ability to empower services and facilitate transactions on our platform;
competition in our industry;
relevant government policies and regulations relating to our industry;
our ability to protect our systems and infrastructures from cyber-attacks;
our dependence on the integrity of brokerage brands, stores and agents on our platform;
general economic and business conditions in China and globally; and
assumptions underlying or related to any of the foregoing.

These forward-looking statements involve various risks and uncertainties. Although we believe that our expectations expressed in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, our expectations and our actual results could be materially different from our expectations. Important risks and factors that could cause our actual results to be materially different from our expectations are generally set forth in “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” and other sections in this annual report. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors and uncertainties, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. You should read thoroughly this annual report and the documents that we refer to with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and worse than what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should read this annual report and the documents that we refer to in this annual report and have filed as exhibits to this annual report, of which this annual report is a part, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.

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PART I

Item 1.       Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

Not applicable.

Item 2.       Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

Not applicable.

Item 3.       Key Information

Our Holding Company Structure and the VIE Contractual Arrangements

KE Holdings Inc. is not an operating company in China but a Cayman Islands holding company with no material operations of its own and no equity ownership in the VIEs. We conduct our operations primarily through (i) our PRC subsidiaries and (ii) the VIEs, with which we maintain contractual agreements. Our value-added telecommunication services and certain financial services in the PRC have been conducted through the applicable VIEs in order to comply with the PRC laws and regulations, which restrict and impose conditions on foreign direct investment in companies involved in the provision of value-added telecommunication services and certain financial service. Accordingly, we operate these businesses in China through the applicable VIEs, and rely on contractual arrangements among our PRC subsidiaries, the VIEs and their shareholders to control the business operations of the VIEs. The VIEs collectively held 29.5% of our cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash and 12.9% of our total assets as of December 31, 2021. Revenues contributed by the VIEs, excluding inter-group transactions, accounted for 11.6%, 1.4% and 1.2% of our total net revenues for the fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. As used in this annual report, “Beike,” “we,” “us,” “our company” or “our” refers to KE Holdings Inc., its subsidiaries, and, in the context of describing the consolidated financial information, the VIEs and their subsidiaries in China. Investors in our ADSs thus are not purchasing equity interest in the VIEs in China but instead are purchasing equity interest in KE Holdings Inc., a Cayman Islands holding company.

A series of contractual agreements, including power of attorney, exclusive business cooperation agreements, equity pledge agreements, exclusive option agreements and spouse consent letters, have been entered into by and among our WFOEs, the VIEs and their respective shareholders. Terms contained in each set of contractual arrangements with the VIEs and their respective shareholders are substantially similar. As a result, KE Holdings Inc. controls, and receives economic benefits from, the VIEs through the VIE contractual arrangements. KE Holdings Inc. is also considered the primary beneficiary of the VIEs for accounting purposes, and we have consolidated the financial results of the VIEs and their subsidiaries in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP. However, neither KE Holdings Inc. nor its investors has an equity ownership in, direct foreign investment in, or control through such ownership or investment of, the VIEs, and the VIE contractual arrangements are not equivalent to an equity ownership in the business of the VIEs. As of the date of this annual report, the contracts with the VIEs have not been tested in a court of law. For more details of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure—Contractual Arrangements with the VIEs and Their Shareholders.”

4

The following diagram illustrates our corporate structure, including our principal subsidiaries, principal VIEs and their principal subsidiaries, and other entities that are material to our business, as of the date of this annual report:

Diagram

Description automatically generated

5

Notes:

(1)The registered shareholders of Beijing Lianjia are (i) Mrs. ZUO, Mr. SHAN Yigang, Mr. XU Wangang and entities controlled by Mr. PENG Yongdong or Mr. SHAN Yigang, holding 81% equity interests in aggregate and (ii) several other individuals and entities affiliated with us, holding 19% equity interests in aggregate. Mrs. ZUO is the spouse of Mr. ZUO Hui and a principal shareholder of us. Each of Mr. PENG Yongdong, Mr. SHAN Yigang and Mr. XU Wangang is our director. The registered shareholders of Tianjin Xiaowu are Mrs. ZUO and Mr. SHAN, holding 94% and 6% equity interests, respectively. The registered shareholders of Yiju Taihe are (i) Beijing Lianjia, holding 80% equity interests; (ii) Mrs. ZUO, Mr. SHAN, Mr. XU Wangang and entities controlled by Mrs. ZUO or Mr. SHAN, holding 17% equity interests in aggregate and (iii) several other individuals and entities affiliated with us, holding 3% equity interests in aggregate. The registered shareholders of Beijing Beijia are (i) Mr. PENG and Mr. XU Tao, holding 50% equity interests in aggregate and (ii) several other individuals affiliated with us, holding 50% equity interests in aggregate. The registered shareholders of Beijing Beihao are (i) Mr. XU Wangang, holding 4% equity interests; and (ii) several other individuals affiliated with us, holding 96% equity interests in aggregate.
(2)Beijing Zhongrongxin Financing Guarantee Co., Ltd. owns 95% of the total equity interest, and Beijing Zhonghetai Investment Consulting Co., Ltd,. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yiju Taihe, owns the remaining 5%.

Our corporate structure is subject to risks associated with our contractual arrangements with the VIEs. Investors may not directly hold equity interests in the VIEs or in the businesses that are conducted by the VIEs, and the VIE structure provides contractual exposure to foreign investment in the companies which involve foreign investment restrictions. If the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating our business do not comply with PRC laws and regulations, or if these regulations or their interpretations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations. This may result in the VIEs being deconsolidated, which would materially and adversely affect our operations, and our ADSs may decline significantly in value or become worthless. Our holding company, our PRC subsidiaries, the VIEs, and investors of our company face uncertainty about potential future actions by the PRC government that could affect the enforceability of the contractual arrangements with the VIEs and, consequently, significantly affect the financial performance of the VIEs and our company as a whole. The PRC regulatory authorities could disallow the VIE structure, which would likely result in a material adverse change in our operations, and our Class A ordinary shares or our ADSs may decline significantly in value or become worthless. The contractual arrangements may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing us with control over the VIEs, the shareholders of the VIEs may have potential conflicts of interest with us, and we may incur substantial costs to enforce the terms of the arrangements. As such, the VIE structure involves unique risks to investors of our holding company. For a detailed description of the risks associated with our corporate structure, please refer to risks disclosed under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure.”

We face various risks and uncertainties related to doing business in China. Our business operations are primarily conducted in China, and we are subject to complex and evolving PRC laws and regulations. For example, we face risks associated with regulatory approvals on offshore offerings and listings, anti-monopoly regulatory actions, and oversight on cybersecurity and data privacy. PRC government’s authority in regulating our operations and its oversight and control over offerings and listings conducted overseas by, and foreign investment in, China-based issuers could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to investors. Implementation of industry-wide regulations in this nature may cause the value of such securities to significantly decline or be worthless. For more details, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China.”

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For example, the recently promulgated PRC Data Security Law and the PRC Personal Information Protection Law in 2021 posed additional challenges to our cybersecurity and data privacy compliance. The Cybersecurity Review Measures issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China, or the CAC and several other PRC governmental authorities in December 2021, as well as the Administration Regulations on Cyber Data Security (Draft for Comments) published by the CAC for public comments in November 2021, exposes uncertainties and potential additional restrictions on China-based overseas-listed companies like us. If the detailed rules, implementations, or the enacted version of the draft measures mandate clearance of cybersecurity review and other specific actions to be completed by us, we face uncertainties as to whether such clearance can be timely obtained, the failure of which may subject us to penalties, which could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations and the price of our ADSs. See “Item 3. Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—Our business generates and processes a large amount of data and is subject to various evolving PRC laws and regulations regarding cybersecurity and data privacy. Failure of cybersecurity and data privacy concerns could subject us to significant reputational, financial, legal and operational consequences, and deter current and potential customers from using our services” for additional details.

In addition, on December 24, 2021, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, published the draft Regulations of the State Council on the Administration of Overseas Securities Offering and Listing by Domestic Companies (Draft for Comments), or the Administrative Provisions, and the draft Administrative Measures for the Filing of Overseas Securities Offering and Listing by Domestic Companies (Draft for Comments) for public comments. Pursuant to these drafts, PRC domestic companies that directly or indirectly seek to offer or list their securities on an overseas stock exchange, including a PRC company limited by shares and an offshore company whose main business operations are in China and intends to offer securities or be listed on an overseas stock exchange based on its onshore equities, assets, incomes or similar interests, are required to file with the CSRC within three business days after submitting their application documents to the regulator in the place of intended listing or offering. Particularly, as for the PRC domestic companies that have directly or indirectly listed securities in overseas markets intend to conduct follow-on offerings in overseas markets, such companies are required to submit the filing with respect to the follow-on offering within three business days after completion of the follow-on offering. Failure to complete the filing under the Administrative Provisions may subject the domestic company to a warning or a fine of RMB1 million to RMB10 million. In serious circumstances, the domestic company may be ordered to suspend its business or suspend its business pending rectification, or its permits or businesses licenses may be revoked. At the press conference held for these draft regulations on December 24, 2021, officials from the CSRC confirmed that if complying with applicable PRC laws and regulations, companies with VIE structure may conduct overseas offering and listing. As of the date of this annual report, there is no schedule for the adoptions of such drafts, and it remains unclear whether the versions adopted will have any further material changes. There remain substantial uncertainties about how these drafts will be enacted, interpreted or implemented and how they will affect our operations and future overseas offerings. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—The PRC government’s oversight and discretion over our business operations could result in a material adverse change in our operations and the value of our ADSs.”

Furthermore, the PRC anti-monopoly regulators have promulgated new anti-monopoly and competition laws and regulations and strengthened the enforcement under these laws and regulations. There remains uncertainties as to how the laws, regulations and guidelines recently promulgated will be implemented and whether these laws, regulations and guidelines will have a material impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. We cannot assure you that our business operations comply with such regulations and authorities’ requirements in all respects. If any non-compliance is raised by relevant authorities and determined against us, we may be subject to fines and other penalties. See “Item 3. Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with the anti-monopoly and competition laws and regulations in the PRC may result in governmental investigations, enforcement actions, litigation or claims against us and could have an adverse effect on business, reputation, results of operations and financial condition.”

Risks and uncertainties arising from the legal system in China, including risks and uncertainties regarding that the rules and regulations in China can change quickly with little advance notice and that the Chinese government may intervene or influence our operations at any time, could result in a material adverse change in our operations and the value of our ADSs. For more details, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could materially and adversely affect us.”

These risks could result in a material adverse change in our operations and the value of our ADSs, significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to continue to offer securities to investors, or cause the value of such securities to significantly decline or be worthless. For a detailed description of risks related to doing business in China, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China.”

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Permissions Required from the PRC Authorities for Our Operations

We conduct our business primarily through our subsidiaries and the VIEs in China. Our operations in China are governed by PRC laws and regulations. In addition to the Business License issued by the relevant department of the State Administration for Market Regulation for each of our PRC subsidiaries and the VIEs, the relevant PRC subsidiaries and the VIEs are required to obtain, and have obtained the following requisite permissions for their main operations: the Filings for Real Estate Brokerage Business, the Operating License for Value-Added Telecommunication Business, the License for Non-Financial Institution Payment Service, the Approval for Establishment of Micro Credit Company, the License for Financing Guarantee Business, the License for Insurance Brokerage Business, the Approval for Commercial Factoring Business and Filing on Commercial Franchising.

Apart from the permits and licenses above, we may be subject to additional licensing requirements for our business operation due to the uncertainties of interpretation and implementation of relevant laws and regulations and the enforcement practice by relevant government authorities. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—If we fail to obtain or keep licenses, permits or approvals applicable to the various services provided by us, we may incur significant financial penalties and other government sanctions” for more details.

Furthermore, in connection with our issuance of securities to foreign investors, as of the date of this annual report, we, our PRC subsidiaries and the VIEs are not required to obtain any approval or permission from the CSRC, CAC or any other PRC governmental authorities, nor have we, our PRC subsidiaries and the VIEs received any formal inquiry, notice, warning or sanction from any PRC governmental authorities in connection with requirements of obtaining such approval or permission, under any currently effective PRC laws, regulations and regulatory rules. However, the PRC government has recently indicated an intent to exert more oversight over offerings that are conducted overseas and/or foreign investment in China-based issuers like us, and published a series of proposed rules for public comments in this regard, the enaction timetable, final content, interpretation and implementation of which remains uncertain. Therefore, there are substantial uncertainties as to how PRC governmental authorities will regulate overseas listing in general and whether we are required to complete filing or obtain any specific regulatory approvals from the CSRC, CAC or any other PRC governmental authorities for our future offshore offerings. If we had inadvertently concluded that such approvals were not required, or if applicable laws, regulations or interpretations change in a way that requires us to obtain such approval in the future, we may be unable to obtain such necessary approvals in a timely manner, or at all, and such approvals may be rescinded even if obtained. Any such circumstance could subject us to penalties, including fines, suspension of business and revocation of required licenses, significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to continue to offer securities to investors and cause the value of such securities to significantly decline or be worthless. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—The filing, approval or other administration requirements of the CSRC, the CAC or other PRC governmental authorities may be required in connection with our offshore offerings under PRC law” and “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—The PRC government’s oversight and discretion over our business operations could result in a material adverse change in our operations and the value of our ADSs” for more details.

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, or the HFCAA, was enacted on December 18, 2020. The HFCAA states that if the SEC determines that we have filed audit reports issued by a registered public accounting firm that has not been subject to inspection by the PCAOB for three consecutive years beginning in 2021, the SEC shall prohibit our shares or ADSs from being traded on a national securities exchange or in the over-the-counter trading market in the United States. Since our auditor is located in China, a jurisdiction where the PCAOB has been unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities, our auditor is not currently inspected by the PCAOB. The related risks and uncertainties could cause the value of our ADSs to significantly decline or be worthless. For more details, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—The PCAOB is currently unable to inspect our auditor in relation to their audit work performed for our financial statements and the inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections over our auditor deprives our investors with the benefits of such inspections” and “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Our ADSs will be prohibited from trading in the United States under the HFCAA in 2024 if the PCAOB is unable to inspect or fully investigate auditors located in China, or in 2023 if proposed changes to the law are enacted. The delisting of our ADSs, or the threat of their being delisted, may materially and adversely affect the value of your investment.”

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Cash Flows Through Our Organization

KE Holdings Inc., our Cayman Islands holding company, or the Parent, transfers cash to our wholly-owned Hong Kong subsidiaries (through intermediate holding companies in the British Virgin Islands), by making capital contributions or providing loans, and our Hong Kong subsidiaries transfer cash to our PRC subsidiaries by making capital contributions or providing loans to them.

Because the Parent and its subsidiaries control the VIEs through contractual arrangements, they are not able to make direct capital contribution to the VIEs and their subsidiaries. However, they may transfer cash to the VIEs by loans or by making payment to the VIEs for inter-group transactions.

The following table sets forth the amount of the transfers for the periods presented.

Years Ended December 31,

2019

2020

2021

(RMB in thousands)

Loans from parent to Cayman, BVI, and Hong Kong subsidiaries

    

15,719,863

    

38,818,154

    

4,581,814

Capital contributions from Hong Kong subsidiaries to PRC subsidiaries

 

3,226,094

 

538,439

 

300,000

Loans from Hong Kong subsidiaries to PRC subsidiaries

 

9,798,625

 

5,619,185

 

9,332,778

Net amounts paid / (received) by subsidiaries to / (from) VIEs*

 

10,936,826

 

(1,664,566)

 

240,243

Transfer of intangible asset (advertising resources) from Parent to subsidiaries

 

 

2,036,154

 

Note:

*The cash flows between the subsidiaries and the VIEs included the following:

Cash paid by the subsidiaries to the VIEs for financial platform and other financial related services provided by the VIEs;
Cash paid by the subsidiaries to the VIEs for referral and other services;
Cash paid by the VIEs to the subsidiaries for referral and professional services; and
Intercompany advances from equity-owned subsidiaries to the VIEs, and repayment of intercompany advances by the VIEs.

The cash received from loans and payment for acquiring the subsidiaries were used by the VIEs for returning the onshore capital to preferred shareholders in connection with the reorganization. Other funds have been used by the VIEs for their operations.

As of December 31, 2021, the Parent had made cumulative capital contribution of RMB4,064.5 million and provided cumulative loans of RMB24,750.6 million to our PRC subsidiaries through intermediate holding companies.

The VIEs may transfer cash to the relevant WFOEs by paying service fees according to the exclusive business cooperation agreements. Pursuant to these agreements between each of the VIEs and its corresponding WFOEs, each of the VIEs agrees to pay the relevant WFOE for services related to comprehensive technical support, professional training, consulting and marketing and promotional services at an amount based on 100% of the balance of the gross consolidated profits of each VIE after offsetting the accumulated losses for the preceding financial years and deducting the working capital, expenses, taxes and other statutory contributions required for any financial year, or the amount determined by the WFOE in accordance with the terms of the agreements. Considering the future operating and cashflow needs of the VIEs, for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, no service fees were charged to the VIEs by the WFOEs, and no payments were made by the VIEs under these agreements. If there is any amount payable to relevant WFOEs under the VIE agreements, the VIEs will settle the amount accordingly.

For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, no dividends or distributions were made to the Parent by our subsidiaries. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, no dividends or distributions were made to U.S. investors.

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For purposes of illustration, the following discussion reflects the hypothetical taxes that might be required to be paid within Mainland China, assuming that: (i) we have taxable earnings, and (ii) we determine to pay a dividend in the future:

    

Taxation Scenario(1)

 

Statutory Tax and Standard 

 

Rates

 

Hypothetical pre-tax earnings(2)

 

100

%

Tax on earnings at statutory rate of 25%(3)

  

(25)

%

Net earnings available for distribution

 

75

%

Withholding tax at standard rate of 10%(4)

  

(7.5)

%

Net distribution to Parent/Shareholders

 

67.5

%

Notes:

(1)For purposes of this example, the tax calculation has been simplified. The hypothetical book pre-tax earnings amount, not considering timing differences, is assumed to equal taxable income in China.
(2)Under the terms of VIE agreements, our PRC subsidiaries may charge the VIEs for services provided to VIEs. These fees shall be recognized as expenses of the VIEs, with a corresponding amount as service income by our PRC subsidiaries and eliminate in consolidation. For income tax purposes, our PRC subsidiaries and VIEs file income tax returns on a separate company basis. The fees paid are recognized as a tax deduction by the VIEs and as income by our PRC subsidiaries and are tax neutral.
(3)Certain of our subsidiaries and VIEs qualifies for a 15% preferential income tax rate in China. However, such rate is subject to qualification, is temporary in nature, and may not be available in a future period when distributions are paid. For purposes of this hypothetical example, the table above reflects a maximum tax scenario under which the full statutory rate would be effective.
(4)The PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law imposes a withholding income tax of 10% on dividends distributed by a foreign invested enterprise, or FIE, to its immediate holding company outside of China. A lower withholding income tax rate of 5% is applied if the FIE’s immediate holding company is registered in Hong Kong or other jurisdictions that have a tax treaty arrangement with China, subject to a qualification review at the time of the distribution. For purposes of this hypothetical example, the table above assumes a maximum tax scenario under which the full withholding tax would be applied.

The table above has been prepared under the assumption that all profits of the VIEs will be distributed as fees to our PRC subsidiaries under tax neutral contractual arrangements. If, in the future, the accumulated earnings of the VIEs exceed the fees paid to our PRC subsidiaries (or if the current and contemplated fee structure between the intercompany entities is determined to be non-substantive and disallowed by Chinese tax authorities), the VIEs could, as a matter of last resort, make a non-deductible transfer to our PRC subsidiaries for the amounts of the stranded cash in the VIEs. This would result in such transfer being non-deductible expenses for the VIEs but still taxable income for the PRC subsidiaries. Such a transfer and the related tax burdens would reduce our after-tax income to approximately 50.6% of the pre-tax income. Our management believes that there is only a remote possibility that this scenario would happen.

10

As KE Holdings Inc. is a Cayman Islands holding company with no material operations of its own, its ability to pay dividends depends upon dividends paid by our PRC subsidiaries. Our PRC subsidiaries in turn generate income from their own operations, and in addition enjoy all economic benefit and may receive service fees from the VIEs pursuant to the exclusive business cooperation agreement with the VIEs. If our existing PRC subsidiaries or any newly formed ones incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing their debt may restrict their ability to distribute earnings or pay dividends to us. Under PRC law, each of our subsidiaries and the VIEs in China is required to set aside at least 10% of its after-tax profits each year, if any, to fund certain statutory reserve funds until such reserve funds reach 50% of its registered capital. In addition, each of our subsidiaries and the VIEs in China may allocate a portion of its after-tax profits based on PRC accounting standards to a surplus fund at its discretion. The statutory reserve funds and the discretionary funds are not distributable as cash dividends. Remittance of dividends by a wholly foreign-owned company out of China is subject to examination by the banks designated by SAFE and declaration and payment of withholding tax. Additionally, if our PRC subsidiaries and the VIEs incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing their debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other distributions to us. Our PRC subsidiaries have not paid dividends and will not be able to pay dividends until it generates accumulated profits and meets the requirements for statutory reserve funds. For more details, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—PRC regulation of loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies may delay us from using the proceeds of our offshore offerings to make loans or additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries and to make loans to the VIEs, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business” and “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Governmental control of currency conversion may limit our ability to utilize our revenues effectively and affect the value of your investment.” Except these regulatory requirements, there are not any other statutory restrictions and limitations on our ability to distribute earnings from our PRC subsidiaries to the parent company and U.S. investors or the ability of the VIEs to settle amounts owned under the VIE agreements.

11

Financial Information Related to the VIEs

The following table presents the condensed consolidating schedule of balance sheet data for the Parent, our wholly owned subsidiaries that are primary beneficiary of VIEs, VIEs (inclusive of the VIEs’ subsidiaries) and other consolidated subsidiaries (“Other Subsidiaries”) as of the dates presented.

As of December 31,

2020

    

    

    

Primary

    

    

    

Other 

 Beneficiary of

Parent

Subsidiaries

 VIEs

VIEs

Eliminations

Consolidated

(RMB in thousands)

Cash and cash equivalents

 

3,261,585

 

30,110,015

 

6,515,991

 

1,082,388

 

 

40,969,979

Restricted cash

 

 

2,506,256

 

 

6,061,240

 

 

8,567,496

Short-term investments

 

3,903,368

 

8,697,461

 

2,021,740

 

1,065,752

 

 

15,688,321

Accounts receivable, net

 

 

13,091,436

 

 

92,123

 

 

13,183,559

Amount due from the Group companies(1)

 

2,618,824

 

33,531,667

 

21,620,906

 

2,603,884

 

(60,375,281)

 

Other current assets

 

54,882

 

7,208,949

 

160

 

1,865,755

 

 

9,129,746

Total current assets

 

9,838,659

 

95,145,784

 

30,158,797

 

12,771,142

 

(60,375,281)

 

87,539,101

Investment in subsidiaries and VIEs(2)

 

57,035,601

 

640,795

 

15,560,710

 

 

(73,237,106)

 

Long-term investment

 

 

3,033,573

 

 

106,742

 

 

3,140,315

Right-of-use assets

 

 

6,775,491

 

 

45,609

 

 

6,821,100

Intangible assets, net(3)

 

 

3,013,220

 

 

48,452

 

(1,419,021)

 

1,642,651

Other non-current assets

 

 

4,629,048

 

54

 

513,368

 

9,899

 

5,152,369

Total non-current assets

 

57,035,601

 

18,092,127

 

15,560,764

 

714,171

 

(74,646,228)

 

16,756,435

TOTAL ASSETS

 

66,874,260

 

113,237,911

 

45,719,561

 

13,485,313

 

(135,021,509)

 

104,295,536

Accounts payable

 

 

6,455,743

 

 

139,103

 

 

6,594,846

Employee compensation and welfare payable

 

 

10,873,344

 

 

358,456

 

 

11,231,800

Customer deposits payable

 

 

1,362,765

 

 

5,380,491

 

 

6,743,256

Amount due to the Group companies(1)

 

 

26,843,614

 

31,687,149

 

1,844,518

 

(60,375,281)

 

Other current liabilities

 

108,813

 

6,824,821

 

88,106

 

2,041,704

 

 

9,063,444

Total current liabilities

 

108,813

 

52,360,287

 

31,775,255

 

9,764,272

 

(60,375,281)

 

33,633,346

Total non-current liabilities

 

 

3,816,358

 

5,141

 

48,175

 

 

3,869,674

TOTAL LIABILITIES

 

108,813

 

56,176,645

 

31,780,396

 

9,812,447

 

(60,375,281)

 

37,503,020

TOTAL KE HOLDINGS INC. SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY (DEFICIT)

 

66,765,447

 

57,035,601

 

13,939,165

 

3,671,462

 

(74,646,228)

 

66,765,447

Non-controlling interests

 

 

25,665

 

 

1,404

 

 

27,069

TOTAL SHAREHOLDERS’ EQUITY (DEFICIT)

 

66,765,447

 

57,061,266

 

13,939,165

 

3,672,866

 

(74,646,228)

 

66,792,516

TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS’ EQUITY (DEFICIT)

 

66,874,260

 

113,237,911

 

45,719,561

 

13,485,313

 

(135,021,509)

 

104,295,536

12

    

As of December 31,

2021

    

    

    

Primary 

    

    

    

Other 

Beneficiary of

    

Parent

    

Subsidiaries

    

 VIEs

    

VIEs

    

Eliminations

    

Consolidated

(RMB in thousands)

Cash and cash equivalents

 

55,235

 

12,254,154

 

5,671,331

 

2,465,384

 

 

20,446,104

Restricted cash

 

 

868,862

 

 

5,417,243

 

 

6,286,105

Short-term investments

 

81,906

 

26,406,831

 

2,589,120

 

324,804

 

 

29,402,661

Accounts receivable, net

 

 

9,299,766

 

 

25,186

 

 

9,324,952

Amount due from the Group companies(1)

 

1,997,867

 

39,562,161

 

25,522,236

 

2,805,071

 

(69,887,335)

 

Other current assets

 

55,320

 

3,152,387

 

640

 

1,258,185

 

 

4,466,532

Total current assets

 

2,190,328

 

91,544,161

 

33,783,327

 

12,295,873

 

(69,887,335)

 

69,926,354

Investment in subsidiaries and VIEs(2)

 

62,289,064

 

1,460,163

 

18,311,531

 

 

(82,060,758)

 

Long-term investment

 

2,527,253

 

14,149,543

 

 

361,375

 

 

17,038,171

Right-of-use assets

 

 

7,230,689

 

 

13,522

 

 

7,244,211

Intangible assets, net(3)

 

 

2,231,564

 

 

40,754

 

(1,131,045)

 

1,141,273

Other non-current assets

 

 

4,769,324

 

3,716

 

195,816

 

 

4,968,856

Total non-current assets

 

64,816,317

 

29,841,283

 

18,315,247

 

611,467

 

(83,191,803)

 

30,392,511

TOTAL ASSETS

 

67,006,645

 

121,385,444

 

52,098,574

 

12,907,340

 

(153,079,138)

 

100,318,865

Accounts payable

 

 

5,946,929

 

 

61,836

 

 

6,008,765

Employee compensation and welfare payable

 

 

9,429,532

 

 

404,715

 

 

9,834,247

Customer deposits payable

 

 

774,120

 

 

3,407,217

 

 

4,181,337

Amount due to the Group companies(1)

 

 

30,325,174

 

34,746,136

 

4,816,025

 

(69,887,335)

 

Other current liabilities

 

32,669

 

8,221,055

 

68,725

 

589,339

 

 

8,911,788

Total current liabilities

 

32,669

 

54,696,810

 

34,814,861

 

9,279,132

 

(69,887,335)

 

28,936,137

Total non-current liabilities

 

 

4,319,336

 

 

7,899

 

 

4,327,235

TOTAL LIABILITIES

 

32,669

 

59,016,146

 

34,814,861

 

9,287,031

 

(69,887,335)

 

33,263,372

TOTAL KE HOLDINGS INC. SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY (DEFICIT)

 

66,973,976

 

62,289,064

 

17,283,713

 

3,619,026

 

(83,191,803)

 

66,973,976

Non-controlling interests

 

 

80,234

 

 

1,283

 

 

81,517

TOTAL SHAREHOLDERS’ EQUITY (DEFICIT)

 

66,973,976

 

62,369,298

 

17,283,713

 

3,620,309

 

(83,191,803)

 

67,055,493

TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS’ EQUITY (DEFICIT)

 

67,006,645

 

121,385,444

 

52,098,574

 

12,907,340

 

(153,079,138)

 

100,318,865

13

The following table presents the condensed consolidating schedule of results of operations for the VIEs and other entities for the periods presented.

For the Year ended December 31,

2019

Primary

Other

Beneficiary of

    

Parent

    

 Subsidiaries

    

  VIEs

    

VIEs

    

Eliminations

    

Consolidated

(RMB in thousands)

Net revenues from third parties

40,819,608

5,195,298

46,014,906

Net revenues from the Group companies(4)

1,692,290

1,598,553

(3,290,843)

Total net revenues

 

 

42,511,898

 

 

6,793,851

 

(3,290,843)

 

46,014,906

Cost of revenues - third parties

 

 

(30,978,633)

 

 

(3,768,229)

 

 

(34,746,862)

Cost of revenues – Group companies

 

 

(1,334,922)

 

 

(1,934,136)

 

3,269,058

 

Total cost of revenues(4)

 

 

(32,313,555)

 

 

(5,702,365)

 

3,269,058

 

(34,746,862)

Gross profit

 

 

10,198,343

 

 

1,091,486

 

(21,785)

 

11,268,044

Operating expenses(3)(4)

 

(584,948)

 

(10,705,665)

 

(519)

 

(1,676,094)

 

(86,358)

 

(13,053,584)

Others

 

(10,404)

 

271,007

 

(91,697)

 

340,870

 

 

509,776

Share of income (loss) of subsidiaries and VIEs(2)

 

(1,588,194)

 

(279,938)

 

1,765,106

 

 

103,026

 

Income (loss) before income tax benefit (expense)

 

(2,183,546)

 

(516,253)

 

1,672,890

 

(243,738)

 

(5,117)

 

(1,275,764)

Income tax benefit (expense)

 

 

(960,563)

 

 

56,200

 

 

(904,363)

Net income (loss)

 

(2,183,546)

 

(1,476,816)

 

1,672,890

 

(187,538)

 

(5,117)

 

(2,180,127)

Net loss (income) attributable to non‑controlling interests shareholders

 

 

(3,235)

 

 

(184)

 

 

(3,419)

Net income (loss) attributable to KE Holdings Inc.

 

(2,183,546)

 

(1,480,051)

 

1,672,890

 

(187,722)

 

(5,117)

 

(2,183,546)

For the Year ended December 31,